The Divorce Process
A Texas Divorce Can Be a Complex Legal Matter.
Our Dallas Divorce Attorneys Will Be With You Every Step of the Way.
No two divorces are the same. Nevertheless, the legal process for a Texas divorce has several steps that all parties may be required to follow. Our Dallas divorce attorneys outline some of the steps below.
The First Steps in the Texas Divorce Process
From a legal perspective, the first step to take when obtaining a divorce is wanted by one of the parties is to file the necessary paperwork with the district court in the county where that party resides. This initial filing is called a “petition” as the party is petitioning the court to dissolve the marriage and grant a divorce.
The petition provides to the court the basic information about the parties, the children, date of marriage and confirms the residency requirement. In Collin, Dallas, Denton and Rockwall Counties, “standing orders” are a required part of the divorce petition, which go into effect immediately and apply to every divorce lawsuit. These standing orders are rules that address issues regarding children, pets, property and conduct of the parties.
What Happens After the Divorce Petition is Filed
Once the divorce petition is filed, the other spouse must be made aware that a lawsuit for divorce has commenced. The court must have proof that the spouse has received the divorce petition.
This process is formally called providing “service” on the respondent. It can be accomplished in different ways:
- A sheriff, a constable or a private process server can “serve” the divorce petition to the party and then file proof of the service with the court; or
- In amicable situations, the divorce petition can be handed or mailed to the other person. If this is done, then the receiving party will sign a waiver (waiving the need for the above referenced formal service) which then must be filed with the court before the divorce can be finalized; and
In either of the above, when a spouse is served with the divorce papers, he or she has approximately 20 days to file an answer with the court which will serve as proof that the divorce petition was received. However, there is no need to file an answer if that spouse will sign the waiver as mentioned above. Our Dallas divorce attorneys will advise you which steps you need to take.
The First Court Hearing
In some cases it may be necessary to have a hearing at the court early in the divorce process so that the court can issue orders concerning children and property by which the parties must abide. An early hearing may be unnecessary if the divorce is filed in a county that has “standing orders” (as referenced earlier) which are part of the divorce petition and these standing orders address the issues of the case. If there is a hearing set by the court, then the divorce petition and the notice of hearing must be served on the other party as described above.
At this initial hearing, there are different types of orders that may be issued by the court depending on whether there are children, a residential property or if harassment or family violence is occurring. Though a hearing may be intimidating, our Dallas divorce attorneys will outline everything that will happen and how to prepare.
Most orders will be temporary until the divorce is finalized.
The Advantages of a Settlement Proposal over a Trial
When all the facts have been reviewed a settlement proposal may be made to the other party. It may take time to negotiate but it is better to try to reach an agreement than to have a trial, tell your side through your testimony in court and then have the Judge decide the outcome. Prior to setting a date for trial, however, most Judges require the parties to attend a mediation conference. In mediation, an impartial party, usually an attorney with special mediation qualifications will help the husband and wife reach an agreement and draft a settlement agreement which the parties sign and is then binding. Divorce attorneys are permitted in the mediation, and we can help you negotiate the tems of your divorce. Of course if the case cannot be settled, then it will go to trial. Either way, our Dallas divorce attorneys will be with you every step of the way.
Temporary Orders Control until the Divorce Decree is Finalized
As stated before, the time between the filing of the divorce petition and the time the Judge grants the divorce cannot be less than 60 days. In most cases, it is longer than that by a few weeks. In many cases; it is much longer than 60 days as the divorce process can take months or years if the issues are complicated.
In the interim, between the filing of the divorce petition and entering the divorce decree, there can be a temporary agreement or temporary orders will be issued. If the parties can agree to reasonable arrangements concerning the use and payment of the house, care of the children, bill payments and personal conduct than the need to go to court to ask the Judge for temporary orders concerning these issues does not exist.
In the event that agreement is not reached, early in the case a hearing is set with the court and the parties will get rules from the Judge. The ruling is turned into a legal document called Temporary Orders. These orders remain in effect until the divorce is finalized.
Don't Try to Handle Your Divorce on Your Own. Our Dallas Divorce Attorneys are Here to Help.
Reading the above can be quite confusing. Our Dallas divorce attorneys understand! Schedule a consultation to get the answers you need by calling 214-977-9050.
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